It is with great sadness that I let our NNOA Family know of the passing of Commander Merle Smith, the first African American to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy. More will be shared and I know your prayers and thoughts are welcomed by his family.
It is with great sadness that I inform you that CDR Merle James Smith, USCG (retired), passed away on June 16th, 2021 in New London, CT. As many of you know, CDR Smith is the namesake of the Eclipse Legacy Coalitions “Merle J. Smith Eclipse Legacy Endowment,” which was established in 2017. Merle J. Smith was the second African American to receive an appointment to the Academy and the first to graduate in June of 1966. He was characterized as an excellent CGA Cadet, excelling with hard work in the classroom, in the barracks and on the football field. CDR Smith Served as the Commanding Officer of a Patrol Boat during the Vietnam War and achieved his Juris Doctor, becoming a licensed attorney in 1974, all before being assigned to the Coast Guard Academy law faculty in 1975. It was then that LT Smith’s impact at CGA would become legendary as a teacher, mentor and coach. He served as the Class Advisor for the class of 1977, as an assistant football coach under the great Otto Graham and was an inspirational example for many of the young cadets to follow. Including the class of 1978’s VADM Manson Brown, USCG (ret), who would tout “LT Smith modeled for us what we could become in the Coast Guard. As such, he added to our motivation to stay and do the hard work necessary to thrive at the Academy.”
There is so much more to learn and remember about CDR Merle J. Smith, and the Eclipse Legacy Coalition will provide more details as time goes. However, for a couple of great reads on CDR Smith’s legacy please read:
The Long Blue Line: Merle Smith – the first African American graduate of the Coast Guard Academy « Coast Guard COAST GUARD COMPASS (dodlive.mil)
The Day – Coast Guard Academy renames officers club after first black graduate, retired Cmdr. Merle Smith – News from southeastern Connecticut
Arlene Turner-Magee attended Southern University A&M College while on NROTC Scholarship. She was commissioned in the US Navy in May 1985. She was stationed in San Diego (Coronado), CA then New Orleans, LA. She was retired on active duty in 1991 after a tragic car accident that left her a paralyzed. She leaves behind three children, her father, a sister and a brother.
A Celebration Service honoring the Life and Spirit of Arlene MaGee, USN (Retired) LT/0-3 at US Navy of Atlanta, Georgia formerly of Pensacola, Florida was held Saturday, April 10, 2021, 2:00 p. m. at New Life Tabernacle Church of God In Christ, 715 Cleveland Avenue, SE Atlanta, Georgia; Bishop J. E. Hogan, officiating. Interment, Georgia National Cemetery. Remains will lie in repose from 12:00 noon until the hour of service. Survivors are three children, Brandon Bolden, Ashley Bolden and Elisha MaGee; parents, Archie (Beverly) Turner, Sr.; sister, Cynthia (Lorenzo) Robinson; brother, Archie Turner, Jr.; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends. Family and friends are asked to assemble at the church at 1:30p.m.
March 11, 1947 – March 9, 2021
It is with great sadness that I inform the members of NNOA about the passing of Captain Lee T. Womack, Sr., USN (Ret.). Captain Womack served as President of NNOA from 1993 to 1995.
Thank you to all of the NNOA members for their condolences. My family appreciates the support. Angela (Captain Womack’s daughter)
Temple & Sons, Service: 11:00 am, Friday March 19, Emmanuel Baptist Church, 2140 N. Kelley Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73111
It’s a private family service due to Corona Virus restrictions.
Rear Admiral Robert Toney, Retired, US Navy, life member and of one our NNOA visionaries passed away on Friday, November 4, 2016.
Rear Admiral Robert L. Toney was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy in 1957. Admiral Toney’s naval career spanned 34 years. He commanded four organizations with the Navy and received numerous honors and decorations including the Defense Meritorious Medal, the Navy Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Vietnam Service Medal. He completed NATO Defense College in Rome, and the National and International Security Course at Harvard University. He holds honorary doctorates from National Defense University and Golden Gate University. Admiral Toney retired from the military in 1994 and moved from a life devoted to public service to a life devoted to community service. He has served on several boards including the California State University, Chico Advisory Board and President of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Funeral arrangements are pending. RADM Toney retired in the Northern California and was an active member of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter up until his passing. For funeral arrangements, e-mail CDR Adolph Keyes, USCG, RET, President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org.